“Quality [of care] starts at the governance level”

An article in the Otago Daily Times (New Zealand) quotes the Chief Executive of Otago District Health Board, Brian Rousseau, as saying “The Otago District Health Board does not understand the role it will need to take in leading from the top to improve quality of health care if it is to catch up on the rest of the world………I think quality starts at the governance level. The boards need to understand their role in quality and I don’t think they do.”

Mr Rousseau was talking to the Otago Daily Times following a trip to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s annual conference in the USA in early December. Following his return from the conference he says “If I take a look at what is happening [in patient safety and quality of care] in the rest of the world, we have slipped behind in New Zealand.”

Mr Rousseau took home a message from the conference that every board member should be asking questions about patient safety, such as "do we really have an open and fair culture?" and "are we always open when things go wrong?" 

While change was needed at board level, Mr Rousseau was also critical of his own performance. As chief executive, it was his role to lead a change of culture in the organisation to a culture focused on quality, he said.

"Probably the biggest problem is lack of time. The reality of a chief executive’s job is there are a lot of other things we deal with. "It is about finding the time to get out of the office and spending time walking around the organisation, talking to people. Finding out more about their roles is a vital step. "I don’t do that enough and it is one of the things I have got to change."

Read the full Otago Daily Times article here.

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